So this is it folks! After more than a year on the go, War at Heart is all but done. I’m a little sad, and a little relieved to be honest. It’s been a long road with this one and for those of you that have been with me on it from day one, it has been an even longer one for you waiting!
Here it be, the final chapter of War at Heart. ❤ xo
“And he just left, just like that?” Lafayette asked as we tucked into our roast beef sandwiches he nipped from the kitchen for our midnight feast in my room. We were discussing life, and everything in between.
“I thought it was just like that, but really it wasn’t. Hell I do not know any man that would have put up with what he did for as long as he did. I was a mess, truly.”
“Still messed up, but at least I know it.” I laughed awkwardly. “I want to go back, to Scotland, to England or wherever he is now, I just want us to get back on track… or try.”
“Sounds like the love is still there, just maybe a little less patience.”
He was right on that one. Dead right.
“And what about you, huh? What are you doing here of all places?”
“Was the last resort really, I spent all I had in savings to bring my mother here for her proper burial, and well, I got stuck. No money meant no way back to Paris, and so I tried for every job in every establishment from here to New Orleans, practically. This was the best they could offer me; I’m basically their kitchen bitch.” He sighed. “I do not get to cook as I wish, but I make amazing dainty sandwiches… my arrangements can get creative.”
“Well that’s not good enough, Lafayette.”
He looked at me sharply then, as if, I insulted him. I just smiled.
“It’s not good enough for you; we’ll have to find you something better.”
“Ugh, please. If you know anyone in need of a full time cook, put in a good word, several, hell, give them a whole book of words on me if you can.”
I smiled again.
“Lafayette? Ever been to Scotland?”
And that was that, three days later we were both on a ship back to England, and then on a train to Scotland. It was really a good thing Lafayette and I got along so well, being stuck with just each other for that length of time, there were very few people in the world I could stand it with, and luckily, he was one of them. We received so many judging looks as we spent our time together, lots of whispers from the ladies at lunch, but I paid them no mind and I urged Lafayette to do the same. Instead, we came up with an elaborate fantasy to pass the time, he was my painfully homosexual bodyguard, and I was a temptress who robbed banks for fun.
Well, there was only so much reading one could do when they travelled, right?
When we got off the train to a grey and misty Scotland summer’s day, his face was a picture.
“This is summer?”
“Indeed. Wait until your first winter. Christ.” I sighed. I did love it, but at the same time, whatever this country did to Mother Nature to piss her off, I would have liked to know. The sun barely came to visit. However, even the grey weather could not dampen my excitement of seeing Eric again, so much, so that when we finally reached the Estate, I left Lafayette to shock Mrs Fortenberry all on his own, after hearing that Eric was out with the animals, and I knew exactly where he would be too.
When I did see him, out there alone riding on the horse looking so at ease and handsome, it shocked me somewhat when it took my breath away for a moment or two. I had missed him sorely, and I hoped he felt the same about me, even though he was the one to leave. When he saw me, his face said it all, the shock, the relief, the happiness. The relief it sent through me was unlike any other, I was home now, and he was my home. The love we made there, right in the dirt, was something unexpected and wonderfully liberating to the life we had lived before our leave from both that country, and each other, that when we came back together it seemed nothing else mattered but our need for each other. It was overwhelming and wonderful and all the things we had been missing for a long time in our absence from those grounds, but find my way back to where Eric and I started, meant finding my way back to him, and to myself. Something in those weeks before I would have deemed impossible, vowing that he and I were too far-gone to find out way back, but we did. It was not easy, but then again life was not meant to be easy, it was meant to be hard and painful for it made us enjoy the happy joyful parts all the more when they did come along. It was like the Scottish weather, grey, dull wet and windy, but then when the sun did come out, it came out to play and show off the wonderful countryside she kept hidden, like her secret. Happiness was our secret, one we kept hidden for just us, and I wanted to revel in it now, to be happy with my life as it was, because in my obsession to beat Bill at life by having a baby, I forgot the most important thing. I was alive, I was living and he was dead.
I had already beaten him, as he laid six feet under and I my face to the sun and with breath in my lungs.
I had won, I had Eric, and I had a life to lead all my own. A family would come one way or another; it just meant unconventional ways for us, which should not have surprised me in the slightest, for Eric and I were nothing if not unconventional.
“Adopting?” He asked me as we laid in bed after our reunion and sneaking around adventures. He seemed surprised.
“I think so. I mean, I have thought a lot about it and if it is an option then, I say we should explore it. I do not mind when, now, five years from now, as I said, I just want us to live. Whatever that means.
“Then, I think we need to look into it then.” He said with a smile before he pulled me into his big embrace, close to his warm body, where I would lay happily. “But tomorrow, tonight, we concentrate on us.” He wriggled his brows at me. “And dinner isn’t for another hour.”
After we had finally managed to tear ourselves away from the other, I was able to dress and fix myself up as best I could, and made my way downstairs. I needed to make sure Lafayette had not been fed to the wolves in my absence. I knew first-hand what a judgmental and unwelcoming bunch they could be there, particularly at first.
I walked into the kitchen unnoticed at first; they were all sitting around the dining table, all starting at and no doubt questioning the unknown man.
“Hello everyone.” I said to announce myself. They all stood instantly, it was strange but still after all this time that still took getting used to.
“My lady, you’re home then.” Mrs Fortenberry spoke for the crew now, as I greeted them with a nod and a smile to try to soften their faces.
“I am indeed Mrs Fortenberry, and I’ve brought a new addition to the household. I hope you’re all being as kind and as welcoming to Lafayette as I know you all to be.” Sure, there was an edge of sarcasm in my voice, and the look I gave Lafayette told him how much I just did not mean it, but I had briefed him before we got there, so he knew all about them.
“Of course, we are just…confused Ma’am.”
“Why’s that then?” I asked cheerfully, walking over to stand by Lafayette.
“Well…we…uh we already have a cook. We have Liam and Malcolm still since Diane left for London. We have been doing just fine –“
“You’ve been doing just fine, Maxine, because Eric and I have been gone over a year and there has been very little to do here beyond cleaning and fending for yourselves. You forget now that we’re back, things… the house will come back to life again.”
Everyone stared at her, I pushed down that feeling that I got when I spoke up to her, that one that sneaked in even though I did not want it to. The feeling as if I was still the new girl, the house maid and she my superior. I was not and she certainly was not any longer, I needed to grow out of that feeling, and fast. This was my home now.
“Lafayette is a fine cook, and an even better baker, he worked for Ms Pamela as I’m sure his references have shown,” I nodded to him and he nodded back. “And more than that, he’s a friend, and a wonderful man, and we could use a few more of those around here.”
They all seemed dumbfounded, not that I was surprised.
“Lafayette, breakfast here begins at five am, not six like I’m sure someone or other has told you.” A lesson I learned the hard way on my first day there. “And the menus are set out at the start of each week, though that might soon be changing. I plan to run a much more informal household to the one that Lord Niall let me run for him.” I hinted strongly at the arm of the law that was Mrs Fortenberry. She pinched her lips together, clearly hating this new me.
When she did not speak then, I nodded to everyone else.
“I hope you make my friend welcome, and soon you’ll come to wonder what we all did without him, or his cookies.”
“What are cookies?” Millie whispered to Mr Dearborn who merely smiled.
“Lafayette? Let me show you around, hmm?” I offered and he smiled at me then, putting out his arm for me to take it, I could swear I heard Maxine’s head explode when we left the kitchen. Both of us contain our laughter when we got above stairs, as Laf mimicked my accent.
“OH honey child, someone does not like the Maid becoming the Mistress!”
“You’re telling me!” I said as I dragged him from the libraries to the dining room, to the empty and unused rooms that I never knew what they were for exactly.
“Sookie? You… own this now right?”
“In a way, I mean it’s in Eric’s name, but since we’re married… I kind of do.”
“Well that means you get to redecorate right? Because, honey…” He looked around and his face was a picture. It was true though, the house had been caught in a time warp of sorts, and everything was very … Victorian. The new era had not travelled as far as the Estate yet, but Lafayette planted the seed of change in me, and in turn planted it with Eric.
Well, we both did, daily for about a week before he held his hands up to both of us one afternoon after we had yet again cornered him with ideas.
“I give in, please it all sounds wonderful and I trust you Sookie completely… no Arabian night themes thank you, Lafayette.” He kissed my forehead and went to his office, he had been in his spare time looking into the road to adoption for us. Apparently, the list of people that Eric knew that owed him a favour did not just extent to law enforcement, but child services too. We got all the papers necessary, filled in all our details, and sent it off, just like that, one of many processes involved in an adoption, but given Eric’s status, we were assured we would be bumped to the top of the list in no time. That was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
In between meetings with our decorator and bringing the house into the new century, Eric and I had fallen back into life in the country much quicker than I thought we would. Compared to the stress and strain we felt constantly in New York, being back in the wilderness really forced us both to relax, and to spend that quality time with each other. We resumed our daily walks, I even started horse riding with him on the sunnier afternoons, we would pack a picnic and escape the house of judgement for hours on end, just revelling in the surprisingly hot summer Scotland gave us, and the peace and quiet and privacy to just be ourselves.
“And you’ve seen Amelia then? I know her boy is sick…”
“He is, he’s also adorable, even with the cold. We talked, and I told her that she could take as much time off as she needed for baby Sam, as not so baby Sam is working full time in the pub now, she needs to be there, I think she will quit eventually… I hope she does not but I think she will. I apologised for not being around when she was pregnant and we talked all things babies, and I did not even feel jealous. Improvement I think, on my end.” I said with a smile, it was amazing what time did for one’s perspective.
“I’m proud of you, Sookie. I really am. For everything you have been through you are still this amazing woman with a huge heart… I’m glad to be married to you.”
That made my heart sing, almost, if it could, it would.
“You’re too sweet.”
“That’s what makes you sweet.” I purred giving him a peck on the cheek before we resumed our cuddle position on the blanket.
“How’s work?” I asked knowing he was spending most of his days in that office of his in meetings or on the telephone.
“Well… they’ve finally agreed to let us test out some of the machinery on the farms, we’ve assured them it will only help improve things, but people … they hate change. It hasn’t been easy but hopefully with this it will see the yearly turn over double at least.” We talked town business, and everyone that was tethered to the Estate was now connected to Eric, he really did have a lot on his plate work wise, but he seemed to handle it, and them, with relative ease. I assured him it was his charm, he told me it was possibly his manners, that, and he was a lot more open to ideas than Niall had been in the past. Much like the house, Niall’s way of running his business was stuck in the dark ages.
“I was also talking it over with Sean, the idea of opening up a dance hall, a proper large one, maybe with a movie theatre too. We’ve been talking of expanding businesses.”
That surprised me, though it should not have, we attended the pictures regularly in New York and he loved it.
“Entertainment is lacking here.” I commented nudging him but he just laughed.
“Horrific isn’t it, being made to make our own entertainment.”
“We do seem to do okay…” I moved to kiss him and he maneuverer us so that I was suddenly underneath him.
“Yes, we do seem to do okay, don’t we? Out here, all alone, with no one to see or hear us….” His mouth met my neck in a hot, soft, kiss, a kiss that only he could give me.
“I’m sure I do not know what you’re suggesting, Mr Northman.”
“I’m suggesting we spend the rest of our afternoon making like nature intended and getting a little naked…”
“Oh, I would …but the bugs…”
“Psh. They don’t care.” He mumbled as his hands began to wander under my dress. It was probably quite worrying how easily he could get me naked, or at the very least without my underwear.
“God, you have no idea how much I love that women’s fashion has moved past the corsets. They were sexy for five minutes, but the thirty you’d spend undoing them was decidedly less so.” He mumbled again, into my neck as he slid my decidedly less complicated underwear down my legs.
“What if someone sees?”
“Sod them, this is our land and we’ll arrest them.”
“Even if we’re breaking the law…?”
“No one will see!”
With him nuzzling on my neck as he was, it was rather difficult to say no to him, so I did not and for the second time since I had been home, we went all the way to heaven and back under our tree and hopefully out of sight. It was rather glorious to say the least, so freeing and primal, I knew due to the Scottish weather it was not something I could get used to, but for the summer, I knew we would take full advantage when the weather allowed… I knew as well as I knew anything that this was now a kink of Eric’s one he completely passed on to me.
Having Sookie back was like having air in my lungs again, everything seemed better, brighter and more vivid again. She just had that way, of just being in a room and making it so much more than just a room. Of course now she was literally in those rooms making them into so much more with her ideas and teaming with Lafayette to redo the house and as they kept saying ‘bring it into the new century’, I had no objections, I knew Sookie would not steer our home wrong, and she would rein Lafayette’s ideas in too. His were far too exotic for rainy Scotland. He had however settled in, his first week and he was on a first name basis with everyone from Mrs Fortenberry to the Gardener, Joe. Everyone was weary of him, he told me. Of course they were, he said. Sheltered and unworldly all of them the opposite of him, but that they had not been unkind, and for him that was enough for the time being. I had hopes that he would be happy with us, as part of our mixed up little family, but I struggled to see how he could get what he needed in such a small close-minded place. It was one of the reasons Pam preferred cities, people were more opened minded there, or at the very least willing to indulge in the parts of themselves they kept hidden from view – even if they never admitted it to anyone.
For the time being, Sookie and I accepted that he was happy to be where he was and with some people at least, that he liked. He swore it was more than he had in the States, and that he was happy, so we’d let him be. We would, of course Pam would not when she would no doubt come to stay at some point. But, it was not our business, not really, and so we kept silent on the subject. The subject we had been far more preoccupied with was the adoption process. Sookie had been back a week when we filed the forms, and then with a little cheeky phone call or three, we were assured our process would be significantly faster given my quote unquote status.
Finally, that stupid thing had some uses, I thought.
After several meetings with the children’s services, when we were questioned right down almost to what kind of underwear we wore, it was deemed ‘appropriate’ for us to visit the orphanage to … have a look. We got as far as the gates and it instantly made Sookie and I uncomfortable, she deemed it shopping for a baby – in the most literal sense, and we ended up putting off for almost three weeks. But eventually we both decided that it was what we wanted, and putting it off was just avoiding what would have to be done, we weren’t shopping for a child, we were going to expand our family, it was all a matter of perspective.
When the day arrived in late summer, she and I were both up before the sun, both of us jittery with nerves. It had been an exciting time to say the least, and the day had come for us to go and meet the babies, to see how we got on.
“Do I look okay?” she asked me for what must have been the millionth time since we left the house, she tucked her curled and pinned hair behind her ears again, she fussed with her dress, she checked her shoes, her lipstick, all for imperfections.
“As I said before love, you look lovely, relax.” I squeezed her hand for a show of support, who the support was for, her or I, was hard to tell.
“Yes but what if they…. Don’t like us?”
“They’re babies, babies don’t care what we’re wearing… trust me.”
“Not just the babies, but the people.”
“Sookie they run an overstuffed orphanage, I’m sure they’re just happy to be off loading some of their cargo.”
“Oh god, don’t talk about them like that.” She gently slapped me as we reached the front door of the large and intimidating building.
“Sorry, I detach when I get nervous.”
“And I obsess. Aren’t we a pair?” She smiled nervously.
We were led by the harsh and unfriendly looking woman, Margo, into an office where Sookie smoothed down the front of her dress a few more times and I reminded us both to breathe. There was another meeting about how this was a lifelong responsibility, and not to be taken lightly, all things we knew but I guessed it was their protocol. We were then asked if we would like to meet some of the babies, since on our form we had stipulated a newborn or infant at the oldest, there was a special room for those of that age. I broke away for a second, my nervousness getting the better of me, and I asked them to go ahead without me as I went to pee. Sookie refused, and so I rushed.
Of course, in a building so large and dank, I got myself turned around and found myself in another corridor full of doors, none of which led to the bathroom
That is when I met him.
I looked in the little window and saw him, this small child who could not have been more than five. However, he was reading, his nose in the book ignoring all the other kids wreaking havoc around him. For some reason he caught my eye, so I went in.
There did not seem to be anyone supervising the room, which I found odd since they were not exactly toddlers and were running amuck. I took a seat at the table and instantly recognised the book he was reading.
The Secret Garden.
I not so secretly loved that book, even if it was mainly aimed at children.
“Do you think Mary is just too nosy for her own good then?” I asked the little brown-haired boy who had yet to look up. Then he did, with a slight smile.
He had big green eyes and a scattering of freckles on his little nose, he was also very young. Younger than I imagined being able for a large book like the one in his hands.
“She is, but in a good way. Her being nosy helps everyone.”
Smart kid, I thought to myself.
“I’m Eric by the way.”
“Henry, and that’s my brother back there, he’s called Jack.” I looked to the corner where he nodded. Sure enough, there was a boy, much bigger than Henry, but he was just sitting facing the wall.
“Is he okay?”
“He don’t talk much, but he’s okay.” The boy was not a Scottish native, he had what I guessed to be a London accent.
With that, the boy sized me up.
“Are you here to see the babies? All the other couples are here for the babies.” He said matter of factly, and I agreed that I was.
“What you doing in here then? We’re not babies.”
“Well, I got a little lost on my way… and I saw you reading and wanted to see what it was.”
He held up the book with an expectant look on his face, he was a little smartarse this one, it was funny.
“You seem a little young for that book, how old are you?”
“Six, I’ll be seven in seven months is what Jack says. How old are you?”
“I’m old compared to you, I’m thirty six.”
His eyes widened.
“That IS old.” He laughed.
“It really is, especially when you’re six.”
“Is your wife with the babies? All the wives love the babies.”
The fact that this little guy was only six but knew so well that what the couples wanted were tiny babies made me a little sad for him, we weren’t even shown into this part of the building, just right to the new-borns and toddlers.
“She is for right now she’s probably wondering where I am.” I looked toward the door to signify I might leave, but as I looked at his cute little face so resigned to disappointment at such a young age, something pulled me to stay there.
“But… how about we play a game of snap before I go?” I said spotting the playing cards on the table, he put down his book and took the cards from me.
I smirked. Smart kid.
Three games of snap later and Sookie’s hand appeared softly on my shoulder.
“There you are we thought you must have gotten lost.”
I looked and there she stood with a curious look on her face, the orphanage manager behind her.
“Oh, I suppose I did in a way.”
I noticed Henry looking at Sookie with big wide eyes.
“Hi there,” She said extending her hand and he looked to me before he stuck out his own to shake it.
“Sookie this is Henry, he’s six and he’s beating me at every game of snap we’ve played.”
That made Sookie smile again.
“Is that so? Well good for you, Henry. Someone has to keep him in his place.”
Henry giggled but then stopped himself, noticing the manager behind her. My heart ached.
I found myself thinking of him and what his life was like long after we left there that day, and every time I did, I worked myself into an unhappy funk of moods that I could not shift out of easily. By the third day, Sookie had noticed to the point where she was forced to say something.
In bed, that next night she put her book aside and took mine, then took my hand.
“You’re lost inside your head again, Love. I’m going to need you to talk to me.”
“I’m fine really; it’s just too many thoughts sometimes.”
“Unload a few of them at me then.” She smiled a goofy smile into my face before she pecked my lips with hers.
“Hmm? I think that trip wore more on your mind than you would like to admit. I know it was over-whelming…”
“It was, and it did… but… I know we said we wanted a baby…” We had met the babies that day too, all of them lovely and cute and all things little babies were meant to be. Still my mind went back to the two lonely boys and I could not help it.
She nodded as if the pieces of the puzzle had been matched up.
“That little boy.”
“He has a brother there too, he’s a little older.”
“Two boys…” Sookie said before shifting to my side and under my arm for a cuddle. This was her go-to move when we talked in bed and I loved it.
“It’s insane, I know it is. Boys come with issues and baggage and as first time parents maybe a baby is a safer bet… I know all this, which is what is causing the conflict inside of me. I can’t stop thinking about them.”
She was silent then for a while before she spoke.
“If there is a reason why they haunt your thoughts, maybe the reason is for us to get to know them better then?”
I didn’t expect that from her.
“But you have your heart set on a ba-“
“I know, I thought we both did.”
“I do want a baby with you, Sookie. You know that.”
“The way I see it is this, you’re right. The boys come with more issues than we may be equipped to deal with. Then again, every child does eventually. Whether it’s a baby we’ve made or found, they’re people and as people we’re all pretty screwed up in the end.”
I listened to her ramble carefully. They were often full of wisdom if I listened right.
“He was cute, and he liked to read for such a young kid… you’d have that in common. I don’t know about the other older boy yet, but, if anyone can get him to come around it’s you.”
“And you. You’re very persuasive when you want to be, Sookie.”
With that, she giggled.
“Oh I know it.” She sighed. “Let’s go back there in a couple of days, organise something perhaps, maybe we can take them for a day out, see if they warm to us?”
I could not contain my smile. Not because it was what I really wanted, but because it was something, she was willing to try for me, for my happiness. She really was an amazingly unselfish woman.
Two days later we were back where we started, having been granted a day pass of sorts with the boys. We had decided to take them for a drive and for lunch and maybe dinner before we had to bring the back. I loaded up the car with board games and books, just in case they got restless. I remembered being a boy; I got restless a lot if I was not doing anything.
Eric was more excited than any child I had ever witnessed, it was beyond comical really, but, they agreed to let us see the boys for the day, and while I was nervous, I was also excited. The idea of having a baby was still there of course, but this too was new and an option for us, and for these boys. There was no harm in just seeing, I told myself. Maybe they would not like us, or us them and that would be that. If we did end up liking each other, well then that made things all the easier in the end. The first day we went for a drive and something to eat, then to the swings in the park in town for an hour or so, it was nice but both boys were reserved and obviously nervous too. Neither said much but both were polite and sweet, even with each other, which was nice to see. The second day, a week later was a different story.
Henry was a ball of energy, he talked nonstop almost, about this or that or his books, Jack on the other hand was the older boy and as such he was the more silent of the two. Beyond please and thank you, he never spoke, not even to Henry. It was odd, but then we just let them be and tried to have as natural a day as possible with them. We took them to town for food, and then back to the house where Eric had decided they were going to play outside since it was such a nice day. Thor was curious and the boys took to him instantly and him to them, he was like a pup again he was so playful with them. Jack again though, was the more reserved of the two. Opting to stay by my side, though we were both silent as we watched Eric and Henry play golf, both missing the ball more often than not. He did not speak and neither did I, not for a long while.
“You want another piece of cake?”
He shook his head.
“I made it myself you know, you should have the last piece because otherwise I will and I’ll probably feel sick…” I smiled. “I like cake too much.”
He gave me a short smile before reaching tentatively for the last piece and munching away.
“It’s good.” First words, there was a God!
“Thank you. I wanted to make you boys some things you might like, I figured everyone likes cake.”
“But you’re a Lady don’t you ‘ave a cook?”
“We do… but I like to bake a lot myself when we have special guests like you boys.”
He nodded, still looking unsure of himself.
“You know, I know this place… and us… it can be a little overwhelming. I remember how scared I was when I first got here.”
“Was that when you married Mr. Northman?”
“Nope, that was when I got off the carriage from the station, walked all the way up to the side door, and knocked. I used to work here, you know? I was a maid.”
His little eyes widened then.
“Really. And, I remember how scary it was, how big and intimidating, and the people were all new and so sure of themselves, and I was just the outsider.”
He nodded then, taking another bite of his cake.
“That is scary. But… you was a maid? Really?” He looked surprised but not judging which in turn surprised me. People always judged that little nugget of information, but not him.
“Yes, that’s how Mr Northman and I met.”
“Was you….meant to do that?”
I smiled and shook my head.
“No, we weren’t but we did and we fell in love and … here we are I suppose.” I decided to save the boy the horrid tale of our history in all its detail, choosing to focus on the positives.
“Unusual?” I helped him and he nodded scooting closer to me on the bench where we sat, watching my husband and his brother make fools of themselves over a small ball, it was a sight.
A wonderful one. I had never recalled seeing Eric so alive.
“Why does you both not have children on your own then? You aren’t as old as the other couples who saw us, and you’re a lot nicer.”
And nice young people had their own babies, I thought that too once.
“We just … tried and it didn’t happen, so we decided to try something else.”
“And you want to adopt the babies?”
“We thought we did…” I shrugged before I looked him in the eye. “But meeting you and your brother sort of made us realise we’d like to see how you liked us before we made any solid plans.”
He nodded as we heard Henry giggling from where we sat, he had whacked Eric on the leg with his bat and he was rolling around on the ground pretending to be in pain, making the boy laugh so hard he took the hiccups. It was clear as day Eric was smitten, and if I was being honest, I was too. They were sweet boys, who if raised right had a lot of potential to be great men.
“You said other couples met with you? How many others?”
He sighed, the weight of the world on his little shoulders.
“Three. One was too old really, he ‘ad a beard and she ‘ad grey hair… they wanted us but the people at the orphanage said no… we don’t know why. The second ones were taking us in, we had our stuff packed and everything but…”
The lady she got pregnant they said, and so… they didn’t want us no more.”
My heart broke for them then and there. Jesus how awful to be rejected in such ways.
“And the third?”
He pursed his lips then looking at his brother.
“The man, he hit Henry, beat him… and me, but mostly him, because we wasn’t strong enough to work the farm with him, so after a week or so… we ran. The orphanage found us and took us back, we don’t know what happened to them but we didn’t have to go back.”
With that, I did not stop myself when I felt the urge to hug the boy, I did stop the tears in my eyes from falling but not my heart from aching for those poor children. He hugged me back, not tightly or with any real effort but he embraced the hug, one I noticed Eric saw, he raised his brow at me and I just shook my head.
“Jack if you and your brother decide that you like Eric and I enough, you could come and live with us if you’d like to. You do not have to decide today or tomorrow even… but if you do decide, I can promise you none of those things would happen to you here. Eric is a big man, I know, but he is not an angry one, and I should know he has the patience of a Saint with me. He’s nice, and kind and I like to think I am that too. I have little patience for snobs or people who chew with their mouths open, or people who don’t appreciate what they have in life when they have it.” I smiled making him smile too, “but for the most part I think I’m not so bad?”
“You’re not so bad, Miss Sookie. I will talk with Henry… and we will say.”
I nodded, as did he and it was like an already agreed deal between us, they were coming to stay and that was that. Of course, as I said it, at the time I did not know or even realise… I was already pregnant.
AN: Ps. There will be an epilogue 😉